Flag of China – Colors, Meaning, and History

The Chinese flag is currently something you see a lot! The Chinese flag is now proudly waved everywhere from sporting events to military parades, thanks to the growth of socialist China. However, what is the significance of the China flag? And what does it represent?

The Chinese flag continues to be the most obvious and recognizable communist flag in the world since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. However, the design of the Chinese flag is reminiscent of the Soviet flag, which was red with a yellow hammer and sickle in the top left corner. It is true that the Vietnamese flag has a red background with a large yellow star in the middle, and Cuba and North Korea are possible “more socialist” than China. The upper left corner of China’s flag, which is also red, contains one large star flanked by four smaller stars.

What Was China’s Original Flag?

flag of china
The Flag of the Qing Dynasty (Source: Wikipedia)

The China flag entered the field of vexillography relatively late. Long before the Mongols and Manchus established the Yuan and Qing dynasties, respectively, China had long been an empire that could resist the collapse of emperors and dynasties and a foreign invasion. They were accustomed to being the center of the universe, with the emperor serving as the earthly embodiment of “the heavens,” the compelling individual, and this is reflected in the initial design of the Chinese flag.

True, they had a wide variety of flags and emblems, but there was no such thing as a “country” that could be defined in relation to other nations. An entire civilization existed in China.

However, by the late 19th century, the Opium Wars and the partitioning of China by imperial countries, most notably Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Russia, and of course Japan, had broken the Qing dynasty’s dominance. The azure dragon was placed on a yellow background in the late Qing dynasty’s flag, which was also the traditional color of imperial China. China was also being integrated into our contemporary Westphalian world.

Pu Yi, the last Emperor, and a child at the time of the Qing dynasty’s collapse in 1912, lost his throne. The five horizontal stripes on the flag of the new Republic, which Sun Yat-sen governed, albeit for a limited while before his death, stood for the “five races” of the Chinese people.

A new flag was introduced in 1928 under the direction of the Nationalist Party and Chiang Kai-shek. A white sun is positioned in the top-left red rectangle with a blue corner. This is the flag of Taiwan, which is claimed by China but has existed independently up to this day. Taiwan is the island where the Nationalists fled after losing to the Communists on the mainland.

The Flag of China, What Does it Mean?

What does the current flag of China represent? The blood of the martyrs who died in the battle for China’s liberation is symbolized by the red background. However, the Chinese also consider red as lucky, and it is common to see it at weddings and Chinese New Year. The yellow stars are meant to symbolize the Chinese people’s unity, but the story is more complicated than that.

What Do the Stars on the Chinese Flag Represent?

The Chinese Communist Party is symbolized by the huge yellow star on the Chinese flag. This powerful unifier dominates and rules the Chinese government. The four smaller stars that flank it stand in for various “revolutionary classes.” Both the Nationalists and the Japanese would be defeated by these working together to win the civil war and defeat the Japanese during World War II.

We must have a basic understanding of Chinese communism to comprehend this. Marx and Engels had predicted that the Russian Revolution would take place in the more economically backward country, as opposed to the developed, industrialized western nations of England, France, and Germany. Then it occurred in China, which not only had a developing economy but also hardly had any industrial proletariat, or workers. The Chinese flag was meant to depict the fact that almost everyone lived as a peasant and farmed the land.

Mao Zedong predicted that China would not see a socialist revolution led by the proletariat but rather a “liberation” from imperialism and feudalism under the leadership of a coalition of revolutionary classes in his essay “On New Democracy,” which he wrote while he was in Yan’an (Yenan). In fact, China still sees 1949 as a liberation, not a revolution. Therefore, the liberation of China is associated with its flag.

The proletariat, the peasantry, the national capitalists, and the small bourgeoisie are all shown as these four revolutionary classes on the Chinese flag. These last two classes, although naturally reactionary, were anti-imperialist and anti-feudal, according to Mao, and would aid in the establishment of a contemporary socialist China. They would band together to defeat those who sought to exploit China’s resources and capital for their gain, including the imperialists (Japan, for example), the feudalists, and the bureaucratic capitalists (both represented by the Nationalist Party, which was a slave to domestic landlords and global capital worldwide).


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